Mayoral candidates Mike Bell and D. Michael Collins squared off today at Sanger Branch Library in a mayoral forum.
The event was co-sponsored by the Ability Center of Greater Toledo, the Maumee Valley Civitan, and the Toledo/Lucas County Commission on Disabilities.
Mayor Bell told the group the city has spent $1.3 million on ramps and has added ramps at each of the city’s pools.
In response to a question about the lack of public activity in the downtown, Mr. Bell said the city’s revenues, at about $161 million from the income tax, still lag behind the $167 million in revenue in 2007 before the recession.
He said the city started work Tuesday on phase 2 of its renovation of Promenade Park.
Mr. Bell cited a planned Home Depot warehouse in Troy Township in Wood County, where the city has a joint economic development zone, and said 30 businesses have been created this year in Toledo.
“It is a city in transition,” Mr. Bell said. “This city has been undermarketed for years. We want to re-energize our [industrial] corridor between Toledo and Detroit, same as between Forth Worth and Dallas.”
Mr. Collins said he and the mayor have a lot in common, but differences as well. He blasted the Bell administration’s acquisition of two luxury SUVs and told him the deficit was well below the $48 million often claimed by the mayor.
He said the city is still laboring under stagnant thinking and said there’s not enough opportunity to give young people the choice to stay if they want to.
“How many of us can say we have children who left Toledo because of a lack of opportunity? I know I can - three daughters. Would they be here today if there was more opportunity? I would hope so. It should be a choice to move because they want to rather than because they have to,” Mr. Collins said.
The two differed over the stalled Southwyck project in South Toledo. Mr. Bell said the city would like to get control of the property. Mr. Collins blasted the administration for its recent suit against the out-of-state owners of the former shopping center property.
"You really and truly haven’t treated people who have invested in this city in a very professional way," Mr. Collins said.
"They are angry and they have every right to be. You sued them and you never had the decency to pick up the phone and call them."
Mr. Bell said later that, “they knew we were coming” and said the suit was necessary because the site owners were not mowing the grass.
About 70 people packed the meeting room at the Central Avenue library for the forum, that included candidates in other races and levy issues.